Saturday, August 29, 2009

WORKSHOP: Blogging Workshop 101 & 201

Blogging Workshop 101 & 201
by Lyn Cote

I want this workshop to provide info to those who are beginners to blogging and also I hope for those who've already been blogging.

Part I-Why Blog? And Blog What?

To begin with, a writer must decide what is the purpose of her blog. The most common reply would be to gain more readers. However, that is tricky since it isn't like a business which could say their blog's purpose is to sell X amount of products. The purpose of a writer's blog is more amorphous than that.

I blog for these reasons:

1-To interact with my readers and attract new readers
2-To build a supportive community of women
3-To reveal "me" not just my books (Transparency)
4-To attract more people to my website.

I was very reluctant to begin a blog because I couldn't think of anything that would be different from hundreds of other writer blogs. But last year at the RWA National Conference in San Francisco, Malle Vallik who's in charge of Harlequin's digital planning, asked me in a "Harlequin authors only" workshop, what my brand was. I said, "Strong Women, Brave Stories." Then she asked, "What on your website reflects your brand?" And a bolt of understanding of struck my brain!

Nothing on my website reflected my brand. And in the next instant, I had the answer to what to blog about. I would relate stories of strong women, from me, from other authors, from readers. Now drop by (Yes, I even registered my brand as one of my domain names.) Now look for any elements which reflect my brand. See a few? Then click Blog and read what I've written by my photo.

Now I know another author has just shared her knowledge on branding so I don't want to redo her work. But to me, branding is more than what you are writing about and how, it's about who is attracted to the stories you write. I'm going to use my longtime writing friend Roxanne Rustand, as an example. We were friends working together toward publication so we still support and help each other. Rox could not think of what her brand was.

However, since I know her and her writing intimately, we talked and talked until we came up with her brand. We still haven't been able to come up with a "jazzy" tagline. But now visit her at and then click on her blog .Her brand appeals to women who love the simpler life, in say, a setting like Wyoming and her readers and she both love animals. So Rox's blog isn't like every other writers blog. She invites other authors to talk about their beloved pets and any aninals in their stories. And pet lovers are loving her blog! A great way to tap into a new pool of readers.

Part 2-How to Blog?

I've recently read or skimmed 3 books on blogging and I'm reading a book called Social Marketing in An Hour a Day by Dave Evans. I also subscribe to and you should too! Here are several links that you should check out since they give you a lot info about the nuts and bolts of blogging.

Now another topic, "Tags" are what Search Engines are looking for. So when writing a blog, you should always "tag" it and try to use popular tags that are appropriate to your content. (SEO =Search Engine Optimization)

Part III-Bait & the Golden Rule of Blogging

By Bait, I mean giveaways. One way to make sure you have "followers" is to give stuff away. This is a legitimate strategy to increase traffic. But like anything else, giveaways can be overdone. I mean do you really want "followers" that only surf for free stuff? Are they really the people you want following you? So here's what I do.

Every May is MEGA MAY (since it is the month of Mother's Day and my theme is Strong Women), I ask each guest author to donate a book and goodies to one big MEGA MAY basket. The only other time I giveaway books is the month I have a new release, I give away one copy a week in a drawing from people who leaves a comment. When I have a giveaway, I notice that I do gain more followers and increase traffic. However, after the giveaway, I find that some newbies decide to stay. As I said, my goal is to form a community of supportive women. In the end, that's the CONTENT I offer my blog followers and guests.

Finally, on the developing society of the Web, there is one mistake you must not make and that is being anything less than honest. That doesn't mean you are going to post your phone number and bra size , but it does mean—WRITE FROM THE HEART, FROM THE "real" YOU. (Remember transparency up in my reasons for blogging.) The one thing that web-users will not tolerate is insincerity or manipulation. One example, Wal-Mart launched a marketing campaign covertly. That means instead of saying up front, Wal-Mart is doing this for advertisement, they tried to act like it had sprung up on its own. A couple who owned an RV began traveling across America and stopping to spend overnights in Wal-Mart parking lots and started blogging about it. It was really catching on and then someone came online and revealed that Wal-Mart was behind it and paying for the trip and blogging. That ended it. Now, if they'd just said upfront, "We're doing this," it probably would have been successful. The dishonesty part is what did it in. So the Golden Rule of the blogosphere and social media, is be sincere.

Here's another link which will give you more about sincerity in your blog.

Now I've given a brief overview and some resources for blogging. This workshop is on a blog, so I want some blogging interaction. Here are some questions:

1-What is the theme or reason for your blog?
2-What in this workshop caught your interest? And can you add anything?
3-What is your blog URL and how long have you been blogging?
4-Do you have any tips on what I mentioned or anything pertinent that I didn't mention?
5- What are your favorite blogs? Please share their URL's.
6- Do you include links to other blogs on yours? Can you think why this might be a good idea?

PS: An informative video--
(50 minutes long)


Lyn Cote said...

I hate typos, but of course, they always happen. In the above workshop, the vehicle was an RV (recreational vehicle) NOT an RW.

Susan Falck said...

Blogging has always seemed to be a huge task to me. Thanks for the help and encouragement.

LaShaunda said...

No need to apologize. I corrected it. Thanks for the workshop Lyn.

I appreciate you :)

Jeanette Hill said...

I haven't started blogging yet though I've been encouraged to do it. The strategies that you've given here have raised my comfort level in this area. I plan to develop a plan using some of the info you've provided here...and then just do it.

Baraka Truss said...

What is this best blogging tool to use to create a following? And how do you get people to subscribe to your blog?

Lyn Cote said...

Blogger by Google is very easy to use and is free so that's what I chose. I have worked with Word Press but I've found it to be much too technical for me.
As for gaining followers, I think that CONTENT is King. You must offer your readers something they want.
I also suggest a regular schedule.

And go to and sign up for the free enewsletter. You'll be glad you did.

Rachel Berry said...

Thanks so very much for answering so many of my questions. I haven't started to blog yet, even wondered if I would have time. This info gives me the tools I need when I'm ready. I've printed out everything.

Unknown said...

Hi, Lyn. Great post.

Next week I will be launching a free event for book bloggers called 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog inspired by Daren's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Series.

Lyn Cote said...

Glad to be of help.

Dee S., what's the link to your free event? I'll come! And pass it around!

Lynne said...

Lyn, Thanks so much for your information on blogging. This is just what I was looking for. I am really going to set up a blog soon. I am also interested in Dee's workshop. I did look at your site Dee. I guess I need to get going with signing up. I am a beginner if that will be OK.

SanTara said...

Lyn, i echo the same sentiments as the other post. your information is both helpful and encouraging. thank you!

Unknown said...

1-What is the theme or reason for your blog?
My theme is God Uses Broken Vessels. I feel like we all have a purpose and God works through us no matter what the difficulty in our life. I do find that I've gotten off track sometimes.

Now that I've started Gems of Wisdom at, I feel like I need to either start a new blog or revamp my current one. However, I'm concerned about changing what I've got going. I don't think I can add more work though.

2-What in this workshop caught your interest?
I checked out the blog links to deepen what you were teaching. I "get it."
I also LOVED the links you provided for problogger and so I signed up. I think that is spectacular!

And can you add anything?
I find transparency really connects me to my reader friends.
3-What is your blog URL and how long have you been blogging? and I've been blogging since I took an online class in Nov. 2006.
4-Do you have any tips on what I mentioned or anything pertinent that I didn't mention?
I think that group blogging really helps as you are learning. I have several group blogs. It cuts my time down to blog once a week and keeps the blog interesting all week.
5- What are your favorite blogs? Please share their URL's.
I'm on this one, but I love the other bloggers:
6- Do you include links to other blogs on yours?
Can you think why this might be a good idea?
Exchange of good will, higher web recognition, serving interest of the reader to mention a few.

Lyn, this is an awesome workshop.
Thank you,

Linda said...

Lyn your workshop provided so much practical and useful information. Thank you for specific sites and specific steps to take to make a good blog. Thank you for the encouragement. I have started a blog but I have not consistently written on it. The second blog I have set up but have not written on it. It's a subject I love and do -prayer, but a perfectionist attitude and procrastination has kept me stymid. Any suggestions for making the process of where to start on the blog easier.
Linda Fegins

Lyn Cote said...

Perfectionism always stifles creativity and being productive. I suggest you get a copy of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamot. She tells it like it is and how to conquer the inner critic in order to create!

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